Lots of aging brawny men will be joining Sylvester Stallone in The Expendables 2 – which is just going into production (see: this fun set photo of Stallone with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis) – but it looks like one star from the first movie won’t return in the sequel.

The actor in question is Mickey Rourke, who played the garage-dwelling, cowboy hat-wearing, “Tool” in the first Expendables. Instead, Rourke is pressing ahead with a role in Seven Psychopaths: the new dark comedy from Oscar-winning writer/director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges).

Rourke was reported to be all-but-locked for Seven Psychopaths earlier this year, joining a cast that includes McDonagh’s In Bruges leading man, Colin Farrell, as well as Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken. However, Deadline says he’s still negotiating to officially join that film and will end up having to take a pass on the Expendables followup, as a result.

Whatever the case, this doesn’t sound like a huge blow for Expendables 2, seeing how Rourke probably would’ve only made a glorified cameo in the film. Besides, if there’s any truth at all to that early rumored plot synopsis for Stallone’s testosterone-fueled badass action roundup, Tool might have only been slated to appear in the film via flashbacks anyway.

Seven Psychopaths will star Rourke as a psychotic gangster whose beloved Shih Tzu goes missing – and suspicions soon fall on a pair of local nutballs (Rockwell and Walken) who are running a dog kidnapping scheme as a means of hustling people out of their money. Farrell headlines the film as a blocked screenwriter – and friend of Rockwell and Walken’s characters – who ends up finding more than enough inspiration when Rourke figures he’s also in on the dog-napping plot.

That’s all to say: Seven Psychopaths sounds like another clever tale from McDonagh and should boast plenty of sharp, profanity-laced dialogue to boot (see: this NSFW In Bruges clip for a taste of that). It’s the sort of film that’ll make good use of Rourke’s acting talents; though, it does seem odd that he won’t appear in Expendables 2 at all, seeing how the latter probably would’ve only required a few days of filming. On the other hand, a good chunk of the sequel will be shot outside of the U.S., so perhaps that has something to do with Rourke taking a pass…

The Expendables 2 cast still includes Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis, along with returning macho stars like Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren – and new additions like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, and younster Liam Hemsworth… possibly, among others. So there’s still good reason to suspect this sequel could (to use an appropriate description) blow the original out of the water.

The Expendables 2 is slated for theatrical release in the U.S. on August 17th, 2012.

Look for Seven Psychopaths to hit theaters before the end of 2012.

Source: Deadline